Baby Wipes Ingredients 2017 – Safe Baby Wipes / Baby Wipes Ingredients To Avoid?


Baby wipes seem to be a staple at most houses with small children. Or, well, children. Not only do they work well at the intended purpose of cleaning your baby from head to toe (baby poop, anyone?), they can tackle pretty much anything. You may occasionally run out of paper towels, tissues, or even toilet paper, but running out of baby wipes? Not acceptable!

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone…

Have you ever wondered what a package of your favorite baby wipes contains?

Have you tried to decipher the strange-sounding ingredients?

If you’ve answered YES, you’re at the right place!

Skin is our largest organ and much of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into the bloodstream. On top of that, children are much more vulnerable because they tend to absorb chemicals at a higher rate than adults do. Last but not least, we don’t yet fully understand the effects of long-term exposure to chemicals, or their cumulative effects.

How “clean” are baby wipes?

From year to year the ingredients of baby wipes change. I’m pleased to say that as of early 2017, baby wipes have cleaned up their ingredient game significantly! Consumers are becoming more aware, and manufacturers are clearly paying attention. Some baby wipes are not yet entirely free of problematic ingredients, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Here is a breakdown of baby wipes ingredients as of 2017

I’ve divided all ingredients into three main categories:

❸ Ingredients to watch out for.

Ingredients to think about. 

❶ Ingredients that are beneficial or of low concern.

If you scroll further down, you can find the current lists of ingredients. The more black you see in any particular ingredient list, the better. Pay attention to the ingredients printed in red, those are the ones I’d avoid. Ingredients in blue might not be perfect but aren’t a huge deal.

No drama, no fearmongering, just available scientific data… Ready?

Ingredients of low concern

The ingredients left in black are generally beneficial or not considered harmful (though the purity of some may be of concern to some people).

Also, I know that glycerin is a hot topic among some parents, and some baby wipes do contain this ingredient. Glycerin can either come from natural sources (both plants and animals), or it can be made synthetically (derived from petroleum). Either type is generally considered safe, though some may prefer one source over the other. Labels don’t generally specify which type of glycerin is used though.

Ingredients you might want to think twice about

Malic Acid

Malic acid is known for its ability to exfoliate skin and appears to be generally safe when used topically and in small concentrations. It can, however, cause skin irritation in individuals with sensitive skin and can increase sensitivity to sunlight.

If you use baby wipes to wipe your child’s face often, or if your child’s skin is very sensitive, I’d personally try to avoid this ingredient.

Phenoxyethanol (***UPDATED)

Contact sensitization in humans using phenoxyethanol has been documented though it appears to be a rare occurrence.

***The reason phenoxyethanol landed here is because the FDA had issued a warning back in 2008 stating that ingestion of phenoxyethanol may be harmful and toxic to infants. This claim involved a certain brand of nipple cream and not just one but two potentially concerning ingredients the cream contained: phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin, thought to have caused respiratory problems, vomiting, and diarrhea in infants. The notice has since been taken down with no additional information.

It is entirely possible that the warning was made prematurely, or that the two ingredients may cause issue only when they interact. To err on the side of caution, however, I’d avoid using wipes containing phenoxyethanol around a baby’s mouth until more information becomes available.

Disodium EDTA

Clinical tests have shown that low concentrations of disodium EDTA do not irritate, sensitize, or penetrate the skin. However, this ingredient improves skin absorption of OTHER ingredients. If you see any harmful ingredients (printed in red) on the package of your baby wipes, it means that they’re more likely to get absorbed into baby’s skin if disodium EDTA is present in the wipe solution.

For example, I’d stay away from baby wipes containing perfumes AND disodium EDTA (Amazon Element Baby Wipes – Fresh Scent; Pampers Baby Wipes – Baby Fresh; both types of Scented Up & Up Baby Wipes. But then again, perfumes are bad on their own anyway…)

Ingredients that are best AVOIDED


Fragrances are basically mixtures of undisclosed ingredients, many of which act as allergens and hormone disruptors. In reality, just one synthetic aroma may contain hundreds of different chemicals. The majority of fragrances are derived from petroleum and can contain phthalates, parabens, VOCs, and other harmful chemicals and irritants unless specified otherwise.

With that said, don’t just settle for a “no scent” package the next time you’re shopping for baby wipes. Some products can contain a masking agent to cover strong or unpleasant scents of other ingredients. The good news is, the masking agent will be listed on the label.

Ceteareth-12, and Ceteareth-20

Ceteareth ingredients have ended up in this category for the following reasons:

  • They enhance skin absorption, allowing other, possibly toxic substances to penetrate deeper into the skin. This would of course relate to anything else you may be using on your child’s skin.
  • Furthermore, available data indicate that Cetearyth ingredients shouldn’t be used on irritated or injured skin (which would include diaper rash).
  • These ingredients may also be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-Dioxane. (See below.)

Hidden ingredients – contaminants in baby wipes

In addition to any disclosed ingredients, there may be unlisted impurities resulting from the manufacturing process. The following (possible) contaminants might not be a huge deal, but if you ask me, the less potential contaminants in a wipe solution, the better.

I have marked possible contaminants with three stars before and after each ingredient  [***…..***]. As you can see below, some products contain several possible contaminants.

Ethylene Oxide and 1,4-Dioxane

The ingredients listed below are all produced with ethylene oxide. If extreme caution isn’t taken during the manufacturing process, they may become contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-Dioxane. (There is unfortunately no way for a consumer to know.) Both ethylene oxide and 1,4-Dioxane are potent skin irritants and carcinogens, and regular use of baby wipes containing these contaminants might increase the risk of cancer.

***Ceteareth-12*** and ***Ceteareth-20***

***Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil 3***, ***Polysorbate 20***, ***BIS-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16/16 Dimethicone***, ***Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone***


Hydroquinone is essentially used as a bleaching agent in products made for reducing age spots and blemishes. It has been shown to be carcinogenic in some animal studies. It can also make skin more sensitive to sunlight and may act as a skin sensitizer.

***Tocopheryl Acetate***

Tocopheryl Acetate is a synthetic form of Tocopherol – the natural vitamin E. Both Tocopherol and Tocopheryl Acetate are beneficial for the skin, having anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, when Tocopheryl Acetate is synthetically produced using methylhydroquinone, it may get contaminated with hydroquinone.

Disposable baby wipes ingredients as of February, 2017

(In alphabetical order)

The following links are Amazon affiliate links, attached so you can see the current/updated products since ingredients and packaging changes from time to time. 


Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, ***Tocopheryl Acetate***, Camillia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, ***Polysorbate 20***, Glycerin, Fragrance, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTAPhenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.


Purified Water, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, ***Polysorbate 20***, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTAPhenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.


Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, ***Tocopheryl Acetate***, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, ***Polysorbate 20***, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTAPhenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.


Purified Water, Lauryl Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate Citrate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil*, Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil*, Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract*, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract*, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.


Purified Water, Cetearyl Isononanoate, ***Ceteareth-20***, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, ***Ceteareth-12***, Cetyl Palmitate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, ***Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E)***, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate.


Purified Water, Cetearyl Isononanoate, ***Ceteareth-20***, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, ***Ceteareth-12***, Cetyl Palmitate, ***Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E)***, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate.


Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Prunica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Peucedanum Ostruthium (Masterwort) Leaf Extract, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Silver Citrate.

HUGGIES One And Done

Water/Eau/Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, ***Polysorbate 20***, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Coco-Betaine, Malic Acid, Fragrance/Parfum, Glycerin, Sodium Citrate, ***Tocopheryl Acetate***, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract. 

HUGGIES Simply Clean

Water/Eau/Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Coco-Betaine, ***Polysorbate 20***, Malic Acid, Sodium Citrate, ***Tocopheryl Acetate***.  

HUGGIES Natural Care

Water/Eau/Aqua, ***Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone***, Coco-Glucoside, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Caprylyl Glycol, Malic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, ***Tocopheryl Acetate***


Purified Water, Phenoxyethanol, Decyl Glucoside, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate, Glycerin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Caledula Officinalis Flower Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract.


Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Sorbitan Caprylate, Decyl Glucoside, Propanediol, Benzoic Acid, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Citrate.


Water, Citric Acid, ***Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil***, Sodium Citrate, Sorbitan Caprylate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, ***BIS-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16 Dimethicone***, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance/Parfum/Fragrancia.

PAMPERS Sensitive + PAMPERS Natural Clean BABY WIPES

Water, Citric Acid, ***Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil***, Sodium Citrate, Sorbitan Caprylate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, ***BIS-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16 Dimethicone***, Caprylic/Capric Tryglyceride, Xanthan Gum.

After reading this, you may wonder: what’s the difference between the two wipes? Why are there two different packages for the same wipe???

FYI: Both versions of these wipes have the exact same ingredients at this point, unlike the previous year. The Natural Clean Wipes have been redesigned, and Pentadecalactone (a masking agent used to cover the scent of other ingredients) has been removed. They’re now both fragrance-free, and the ONLY current DIFFERENCE between the two wipes is that the Sensitive wipes are 20% thicker. (Source: I asked Pampers.)


Water, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Quillaja Saponaria Wood Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, ***Tocopheryl Acetate***.

UP & UP (TARGET) BABY WIPES Sensitive Skin

Water, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, ***Polysorbate 20***, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum.

UP & UP (TARGET) BABY WIPES Fresh Cucumber

Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, ***Tocopheryl Acetate***, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, ***Polysorbate 20***, Glycerin, Fragrance, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum.


Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, ***Tocopheryl Acetate***, Disodium Cocoamhodiacetate, ***Polysorbate 20***, Fragrance, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum.


Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, ***Tocopheryl Acetate***, Disodium Cocoamhodiacetate, ***Polysorbate 20***, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum.


Water (99,9%), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract (0,1%).

You may have heard that commercially available Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) has been found to contain synthetic antibacterial and antifungal disinfectants such as benzalkonium, triclosan, or methylparaben, none of which are naturally found in the extract of the seeds themselves. Also, the GSE products that didn’t contain these additives appeared to have no antibacterial, antifungal, or antiviral effects. It was therefore concluded that the antimicrobial activity of GSE is not due to the extract itself but a result of adulteration of GSE with synthetic preservative agents.

The Water Wipes manufacturer claims that the GSE they use comes from a reputable supplier and is tested for contaminants (including but not limited to the three offenders listed above) and none are present.

– – – – –

UPDATED in July ’17 to reflect new information about the ingredient Phenoxyethanol.

RELATED: Do you wonder what’s hiding in CONVENTIONAL DISPOSABLE DIAPERS???



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  4. Brianna Machado

    Hello. I’m confused about the water wipes. I don’t understand what any of that means. Im confused does that mean the gse can cause viruses? These are my favorite wipes. Please help!!! Thank you!!!

    1. wholesomechildren (Post author)

      Hi Brianna, some people are worried about exposing babies to bacteria and mold when using Water Wipes. While grapefruit seed extract is claimed to have antimicrobial and antifungal properties, it is up for debate. Several studies have shown that COMMERCIALLY SOURCED grapefruit seed extract appeared to have antimicrobial properties when tested, but it was also found to be adulterated with synthetic disinfectants, likely as a result of the manufacturing process. Some studies have also shown that PURE AND NATURALLY SOURCED grapefruit seed extract seemed to have no antimicrobial properties.

      In other words, it appears that grapefruit seed extract may work well as a preservative due to contamination with synthetic preservatives, and pure/unadulterated grapefruit seed extract may not be an effective preservative.

      The Water Wipes manufacturer claims that each batch of grapefruit seed extract they use is tested and shown free of contaminants, and that the wipes are preserved with a patented preservation system that results in a sterile product before the package is open. If you like the wipes and use them up within 4 weeks like the manufacturer recommends and don’t expose them to heat, I wouldn’t worry too much, but that’s of course just my 2c. 😉

  5. Sarah

    I am confused?! :-/ which wipes are the best choice… it seems they all have bad ingredients…

    1. wholesomechildren (Post author)

      Hi Sarah,

      I’d personally steer clear of any baby wipes containing FRAGRANCE (it’s not necessary and it is almost always a reason for concern) and CETEARETH-12 and/or CETEARETH-20 (not only they improve skin absorption of other ingredients which is not ideal especially in combination with, say, FRAGRANCE but CETEARETH ingredients also shouldn’t be used on irritated skin – which just happens to happen to diapered kids). I’d avoid the ingredients printed in red, and the less blue ingredients, the better – some are only “possible contaminants” and no reason to scream and run (but no way to ensure their purity other than regular testing), some like MALIC ACID I’d perhaps avoid IF I were using the wipes to also wipe my child’s face regularly as MALIC ACID increases sensitivity to sunlight.

      The following baby wipes appear to be the cleanest out of the list: Babyganics, Honest Baby Wipes, Kirkland (Coscto) Baby Wipes, Naty Wipes, Seventh Generation Baby Wipes and Water Wipes. Hope that helps! 🙂

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